Inside Line Promotions - KNOXVILLE, Iowa (Aug. 17, 2021) - Justin Henderson piloted Mike Sandvig's No. 7 sprint car to a fourth-place finish during a preliminary night on Wednesday before coming home 19th during Saturday night's NOS Energy Drink Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey's General Stores finale.
The A Main start was the first ever as a car owner for Sandvig during the crown jewel event at Knoxville Raceway and the weekend results were good enough for Henderson to finish third in the Jesse Hockett Mr. Sprint Car Award presented by Beaver Drill & Tool standings, which earned him a $1,000 bonus.
"Ultimately it was a really good week for our team and I'm super proud of our effort against a really tough field of cars," he said. "If we'd run the Front Row Challenge I definitely think I'd have gotten the Mr. Sprint Car deal, but overall to finish third in that and run like we did, I'm pretty thrilled. It's really rewarding as a driver to be able to give your car owner results on a national stage like that."
Henderson kicked off the week on Wednesday by timing in 16th quickest among 49 drivers with a lap of 15.568 seconds. He then advanced two positions in a heat race to finish third. As a result he locked into the feature and earned the second starting spot after being in the eight-car inversion.
Henderson quickly went on the offensive and at the completion of Lap 1 he was dead-even at the flag stand for the lead. He slid into the top spot entering turn one and went on to lead the next 20 laps of the event. A lapped car slowed his momentum of Lap 22 and he slipped back to second as a result. Knowing he needed to get creative to get back into the lead, Henderson tried searching around the track for a faster line and he fell back to fourth at the completion of the 25-lap event.
"The last four laps of the race were the worst part, but up until that part we were as strong as any team on the track," he said. "Only when I saw (David) Gravel get by me for the lead did I even consider trying the line he did and by then it was a little late to be experimenting. We were pretty proud of our run, but ultimately we could've used the extra points for finishing higher."
The strong night was good enough to rank Henderson seventh in the event standings at the completion of Night 1. Henderson set a goal of avoiding Friday's Hard Knox Night and that goal became a reality after the completion of preliminary action as Henderson ranked securely in the top 16 in 14th place out of nearly 100 competitors.
"It was nice to not have to worry about the B Main as I was really just trying to get in that top 16," he said. "I was just hoping I was not going to be on the bubble, so to get to 14th heading into the final night was a relief and an accomplishment. It definitely allows you to sleep a little better and focus when you're locked in like that."
Henderson started Saturday's feature on the outside of the seventh row and was on the move early as he advanced as high as 12th by Lap 5. He jockeyed for position between 12th and 15th over the next 20 laps and at the halfway stoppage he was running 14th .
He remained in 14th position during a red flag three laps later, but something broke on the car and it popped out of gear. He got pushed into the work area and his team attempted to fix the issue. However, when he attempted to push off, he was still hampered by the problem and it ended his Knoxville Nationals bid with a 19th-place finish. The top-20 outing was the team's 33rd of the season and he was also the highest finishing Knoxville Raceway regular in the field.
"We were just trying to stay within striking distance throughout the first half and we had ourselves in a decent position there at the halfway mark," he said. "We were sitting 14th and after that red flag something sounded like it was grinding. I went to take off and I knew something wasn't right. Unfortunately, there wasn't anything we could do from the work area and it was a tough ending to an otherwise great week."
Next up for Henderson and Sandvig will be a Sunday night visit to Huset's Speedway in Brandon, S.D., with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series for the Pioneer Seeds Bin Buster Bash. Henderson is a four-time winner this season at the track, where he is also atop the championship standings.
"I'm hoping to come out the gate fast in time trials and if we can start up front we'll be in contention for sure," he said. "We've had a great season so far at Huset's and I'm looking forward to an opportunity to add to that against the best in the business."
QUICK RESULTS -
Aug. 11 - Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, Iowa - Qualifying: 16; Heat race: 3 (5); Feature: 4 (2).
Aug. 14 - Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, Iowa - Feature: 19 (14).
SEASON STATS -
37 races, 6 wins, 15 top fives, 20 top 10s, 26 top 15s, 33 top 20s
UP NEXT -
Sunday at Huset's Speedway in Brandon, S.D., for the Pioneer Seeds Bin Buster Bash with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series
MEDIA LINKS -
SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT - Eszlinger Electric
Eszlinger Electric, founded in 1984, provides residential electrical services in the Sioux Falls, S.D. area. They offer free estimates, accept credit cards and are a licensed, bonded and insured company. For more information, call 605-271-8488 or 605-941-5087.
"Eszlinger Electric has been a great friend of the team and we're grateful for their support for the past two seasons," Team Owner Mike Sandvig said. "We could not do this without supporters like them and I'm glad to have them apart of our team."
Sandvig would also like to thank Powersports.com, Morton Buildings, Mamma's Pizza of Wellsville, Emory Transmission, Heartland Kitchen Solutions DeBerg Flooring, R2 Enterprise, GRP Motorsports, Winters Performance, Schoenfeld Headers, BK Racing TI Components, SBS FK Shocks, Wings Unlimited, Keizer Aluminum Wheels, Hinchman Racewear, Rider Racing Engines, Triple X Race Co., Boji Custom Metal Works and Simpson Race Products for their continued support.
INSIDE LINE PROMOTIONS -
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*PHOTO BY PAUL ARCH*